‘Ladies’ Thighs’ (Veal Meatballs with Rice and Eggs)


Probably because of the puritanism of their governments over the centuries, Turks have expressed their fascination with anatomy in their approach to naming foodstuffs. There are treats called woman’s bellybutton, vizier’s finger, lady’s lips, sluts’ dumplings and brothel donuts. The plump patties in this recipe made from young cows obviously reminded some nineteenth-century chef of a pleasant experience. The first published mention of this kind of köfte, using mince, watercress and eggs, appears in a Persian dictionary published around 1800— under a more polite name.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) veal mince
  • 110 g ( oz/½ cup) medium-grain rice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground pimento
  • 2 tablespoons chopped marjoram leaves
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g ( oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) vegetable oil, for frying spoon salad, to serve


Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes, until soft. Add half the mince and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, to evaporate any water it puts out. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Wash the rice under cold running water. Put 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water in a saucepan. Add the rice and salt, and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes, until soft. Strain.

Add the rice to the cooked mince, then add the spices and marjoram. Break 1 egg into the mixture.

Add the remaining (raw) mince. Knead with wet hands for 5 minutes to combine. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Divide the mixture into eight rounds, each about the size of an egg, then flatten each into a patty about 12 cm (½¾ in) thick. Put the flour in a bowl. Lightly beat the remaining eggs in a separate bowl. Coat both sides of each patty in the flour and dip in the egg. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Toss a drop of water into the oil. If it sizzles, the oil is ready. Carefully add the four patties to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Using a spatula, remove the patties from the pan and place on paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat with the remaining patties.

Serve two kadınbudu per person, with the spoon salad.